TALES FROM THE TRAILS
Hay burners. That’s what Bill called them. He ran Higgs Feed at the corner of Southern Blvd. and Military Trail some 30-odd years ago.
Back then, I boarded a horse at the Polo Ground Stables on land currently occupied by a Publix shopping center. I’d stop at Higgs, pick up a bag of feed and a couple of bales of hay, then drive them over to the barn. Both the feed store and barn are long gone, but I’m still buying food for my hay burners. Only now it costs a whole lot more.
Whether you board a horse or keep one at home, it’s no small expense. I always tell people that owning a horse is like keeping a car you never pay off.
So how much does it cost to keep a horse these days? That depends.
Leif Aho owns Free Spirit Friesians in Wellington and offers pasture board.
“Our large paddocks are three to 10 acres, some with shelters, some with trees,” Leif explained. “They all have water troughs. If we provide the grain, it costs $300 per month. If the owner provides his own grain, it’s $195 per month. We feed twice a day, and owners can also provide hay. We usually keep anywhere from five to 10 horses in each paddock. We have a dressage arena and access to trails.”
Linda Taylor has owned and run Taylor Farms on E Road in Loxahatchee Groves for 19 years. Her barn offers a mix of all different riding disciplines.
“We don’t offer a traditional full board,” she said. “We have partial board, which means we rent out stalls for $175 to $200 a month, muck out the stall, turn out the horse and throw morning feed. The owner has to supply hay, feed and shavings, and feed in the afternoon.”
First-time horse owners don’t realize the responsibility of owning a horse, both in terms of time and money, Taylor said.
“A lot can go wrong very quickly, and vet bills are usually expensive,” she said. “This isn’t something you should get into without some thought and research. I’d advise taking lessons, maybe leasing a horse at a barn before actually buying.”
Dorian Paxson owns TLP Stables in The Acreage and offers several different choices.
“Full board is $625 a month,” Paxson said. “That includes throwing feed and hay twice a day, turning the horse out daily, bedding the stall with clean shavings and mucking it out two or three times each day. We can accommodate a horse’s special dietary needs and provide a variety of feeds. Any supplements would have to be provided by the owner.”
There are other options for owners who are prepared to take on more responsibility.
“We also have dry stalls, where the owner pays $275 a month just to rent the stall. We can throw the morning feed, but they have to provide the hay, feed and shavings, muck out the stall and feed in the afternoon,” Paxson said. “We offer a lot of other amenities, have a nice ring to ride in and grassy turnout. We have lessons, training and other services. Ifsomeone likes, we can have their horse groomed, tacked up and ready to ride when they get here.”
High Point Stables in Parkland offers full board for $850 per month.
“We throw hay and feed twice daily, and clean stalls two times a day,” owner Jan Magee said. “We have 14-foot-by-14-foot stalls with 18-by-20 walkouts. There are also large grass paddocks. We put on and take off fly masks and fly sheets, and rinse the horse off before bringing it back in. We have hunter rings, lighted arenas, lots of jumps and 50 acres of trails. Our CBS barn is safe during hurricanes.”
Judy Jenner owns and runs Ravenwood Riding Academy in Wellington.
“We only offer full board,” she said. “It runs $1,050 a month and includes everything. We can customize the hay and feed to each horse. We throw feed twice a day and hay three times. The stalls are cleaned twice daily. We can also be on-site to hold the horse for the farrier or vet, if the owner can’t make it out. We turn the horses out, day or night, as the owner prefers, then groom it before putting it back up. We have a really nice farm, lots of grass turnout, high and dry. We offer lessons, for both children and adults, and can also exercise or ride their horses for them, for an extra fee.”
Kit Dedominicis manages Lady Jean Ranch in Jupiter Farms. It’s a 50-acre facility with a covered arena, trails, an outside course, a dressage ring, a round pen, air-conditioned lounge and tack room, and 29 grass paddocks.
“We offer a couple of different choices,” Dedominicis said. “There’s annual board, which includes all the usual amenities, for $1,200 per month. There’s also complete care, which also includes grooming six days a week, for $1,500 per month. We grain twice a day and throw hay four times. Our stalls have automatic water systems, and there’s someone on premises 24 hours. We do a night check at 9 p.m. We have ceiling fans in all stalls, and a sprinkler and insect spray system. Owners are welcome to ride whenever they’d like.”
So how much will all that hay and feed cost?
“It depends on what you feed,” said Beverly Rys, manager of Gold Coast Feed & Supply in Wellington. “Fifty-pound bags of pellets or sweet feed run $14 to $26, and hay ranges from $16 to $35 per bale, by weight and origin. An average horse eats one bag of feed and 2 to 3 bales of hay each week, depending on his job. Is it an athlete or a lawn ornament? Shavings run $5 to $6.50 a bag.”
Then there’s all the other stuff: supplements, brushes, tack, lots of fly spray, wormers, shampoo, hoof dressings, helmet and boots for the rider, show clothes if they show, carrots, farrier and vet bills, lessons, trainers — the list is endless, Rys said.
Indeed, if you own a horse, there’s never a lack of ways to spend money. But when you love a horse, he’s worth every penny.
Many thanks to everyone who helped with this article:
TLP Stables: (561) 791-8325
Taylor Farms: (561) 716-5552
Ravenwood Academy: (561) 793-4109
Lady Jean Ranch: (561) 745-1300
High Point Stables: (561) 470-1579
Free Spirit Friesians: (561) 762-9020
Gold Coast Feed: (561) 793-4607